May the peace, blessings, and mercy of Allah be upon you
Prof. Ali Zedan Abu Zuhri, President of the Arab American University
His Excellency Minister Ahmed Assaf, General Supervisor of the official media
Mr. Stefan Embled, Director of the Palestine Branch of the World Bank
His Excellency Eng. Mohammed Bin Omar - Director General of the Arab Organization for Communication and Information Technologies
His Excellency, Governor of the Monetary Authority, Dr. Firas Melhem,
Honorable audience, ladies and gentlemen
Excuse me at the outset to express my happiness participating in the opening ceremony of this international conference. I would like to thank the organizers of the event for the kind invitation and for the important organization at this crucial technical stage.
We meet today, under the slogan “Jerusalem, the Arab Digital Capital for 2023”, to exchange ideas and visions on trends, challenges and opportunities, with regard to digital transformation at the individual and institutional levels, including all sectors, and to ensure digital empowerment for a prosperous future in this accelerated digital scene, in which it has become the pioneer Innovation, using modern and emerging technologies, is the basis of work and the milestone of growth, progress and prosperity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Digital transformation has become a reality imposed on all countries after it was an urgent option for developed countries and a lifeline for developing countries, so that the world keeps pace with the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution, including the data revolution, the spread of the Internet, smart phones, social media, and e-commerce - in addition to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and access to systems Automated conversation, the Internet of things and virtual reality. This imposed additional challenges and intensified competition in the digital fields and created additional gaps between those who can own these technologies and harness them for economic and societal development, and those who suffer from access to the Internet and the provision of devices, technical capabilities, data and the culture of digitalization.
When the United Nations realized the impossibility of achieving the Millennium Goals in light of these international and regional changes and transformations such as the economic recession, the Arab Spring, economic leagues and global competitiveness, it replaced the Millennium Goals with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, which are seventeen goals that governments agreed to work to achieve by 2030.
Governments, including the Palestinian government, have been guided by these goals in formulating national visions, policies and strategies so that all efforts are in favor of economic and societal development. The digital revolution and sustainable development have become inseparable twins.
Very few years have passed since the starting whistle was sounded to achieve the goals of sustainable development until the Corona pandemic struck, which drained many resources and hindered the wheel of development, rearranged priorities, and exposed deficiencies in the infrastructure, administrative, information and social protection, in developing countries in particular, but at the same time it accelerated the process of digital transformation, as it is inevitable for the continuation of the necessities of life.
There is no doubt that the adoption of digital transformation without planning or preparation has revealed many gaps at all levels, which necessitated the development or modification of policies and strategies to deal with the current situation and strive to make up for what was missed in the work to achieve the 2030 vision through the goals.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Palestinian government has paid special attention to digitalization, and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has led this national effort, coordinating with governmental institutions, the private sector, and academics to advance digital transformation at a confident pace.
In the field of digital inclusion, we have accomplished significant work in access and permeability, as fiber optic networks are spread in most cities to connect to the Internet. We have also connected schools, health centers and post offices, including remote and marginalized areas, and we have succeeded in operating the local Internet PSIX, and we are working to connect it with its regional counterparts. We have also expanded the government data center, and we have finished formulating a policy on digital access. In the field of security, we have an information security policy and strategy that is about to get completed. I would like to thank our partners in ESCWA for their technical support in the field of policies and strategies.
At the governmental level, we have launched the e-government services system (My Government) in cooperation with relevant institutions to include 17 services, and we are working to complete the automation of government services, especially health and education services, and we have a policy for digital transformation and a strategy under development. We are also working through various projects to support the information technology sector, Communications, postal and companies operating in this sector, including postal coding and the platform for companies working in this sector.
In order to frame efforts in the field of digitalization, we have completed the "Digital Palestine Agenda 2030" as a national reference in this field. This agenda is based on five aspects: digital strategic frameworks, infrastructure, governance and legal environment, digital economy, digital employment and digital trade, digital transformation and social inclusion, and culture and the media.
We have not overlooked emerging technologies, as we have a policy and strategy for artificial intelligence before the Council of Ministers for approval, and we hope that the open data policy and the ethical charter for artificial intelligence will be adopted soon.
I also refer to the support for leadership and innovation in these areas through the activities carried out by the Creativity and Innovation Center in the Ministry in cooperation with partner institutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Digital transformation is an inevitable necessity and a practiced reality, a culture that takes root, an appropriate structure, a flexible response to emergencies, challenges and needs, and a means used to achieve economic and social development in an effort to serve the country and the citizen. We must join hands and cooperate to achieve this through awareness, capacity building and infrastructure, the legislative and regulatory environment, and investment in energies and local capabilities.
Thank you for your kind attention and for your invitation to participate in this conference. I wish your conference a great success and a clear contribution to putting points on the letters towards digitalization, development and sustainability.
Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you.